Google Glass & Short-Sightedness

You're not likely to see me wearing Google Glass any time soon. Way too dorky/creepy.

And thus far this kind of sentiment feels like where the wider, collective reaction to Google Glass has settled, people being too unnerved by the privacy thing - nevermind the nerd angle -  to seriously consider owning a pair.

And that could well be the end of it, Google Glass was a dead duck at launch, unable to jump through some reaonably fearsome hoops of adoption fire.

But I actually suspect it's not the end - it's just going to take society a while longer to digest Glass.

Like it did with the first automobiles that had people running for their lives when they first clattered around a corner, or the first flights or the first of anything that moves the game on in a significant way.

We're toolmakers and we just need time to adapt to new tools, just like we always did.

I'm not a fan of Google Glass today, but I've come to suspect that we'll look back in twenty or so years and amusingly refer to the time when short-sighted people used to wear those old, analog spectacles that just corrected their vision.

Short-sighted, right enough.


Immigrants To Tech

I'm about halfway through Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, David and Goliath. It's OK, if a little Gladwell-esque if that's not too harsh.

One of the most interesting vignettes Gladwell illustrates is where he refers to the metaphor 'immigrants to wealth' first coined by Jim Grubman and Dennis Jaffe. Term was used to articulate the notion that people who work their way to positions of personal wealth from a starting point of social adversity can often have trouble adapting their social values when it comes to parenting.

In short, while they grew out of impoverished, working class backgrounds and were self-made successes, fighting for every penny and luxury along the way, their children subseqently experience a more privileged social environment and consequently there's often a breakdown in parenting when the self made parents share fundamentally different value systems from their children. Somewhat akin to first generation immigrants.

It's interesting to consider this framework when applied to the emerging era of social/mobile/cloud tech where forty-something upwards diehards of the PC generation struggle to adapt to the new, hyper-connected world we now inhabit, while their kids crack on as it had never been any different.


Generational Symmetry

Dropbox and Box file sync and revisioning rules are to my generation what programming the VCR was to my generation's parents.

It's like dog hearing. We're intelligent and smart and olde worlde computer literate and all that but just as our parents couldn't wrap their baby boomer heads around something as simple as how to program the VCR timer to record Coronation Street, there's just no way we can work out how this modern day file revision and sync shit works.

It's so symmetrically tragic that it's beautiful.


The warm up acts

I love the notion that the last forty-odd years of computer revolution were only significant in the sense that they represent a necessary journey we had to undertake in order to get to the world of technology we have today.

We simply had to endure the floppy disk, monochrome displays, dot-matrix printers, command line interfaces, modems, virus attacks, Palm Pilots, Internet Explorer 6, Flash based websites and Windows Vista. For without them we couldn't have made it this far.

And by this far I mean specifically the confluence of mobile, cloud, digital, social and data which together form the underlying platform for what we increasingly think of as the computer revolution proper.

"Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale." - Marc Andreessen

For a while we were only able to regard something as innocuous as a browser based web app as being simply a convenient and trivial offshoot of the internet connected desktop PC. However understandable it may have been to see the world that way fifteen years ago, today such a simplistic assessment seems more like a classic 'can't see the wood for the trees' misreading as we watched it break free from its host and then progressively begin to consume it.

And for all the technology businesses and software companies who grew to dominance during this initial phase, as successful, impactful and necessary as they were while they conveyed us to this new world, mere conduits are all they turned out to be.

The warm up acts who recognised their bridging role in this longer term revolution too late to adequately reconfigure themselves for the main event. Giants like Novell, RIM, Nokia, possibly now even the great Microsoft and countless others upon whose shoulders we gratefully stand but whose corporate bodies are now slowly decomposing to form just another layer of historical sediment.


The canary in the coal mine

Apparently there's a direct correlation between the growth in construction of tall buildings and the imminent collapse of an economy. In short, apparently just before an economic crash there's so much slack cash swilling around that the only thing left to spend it on is ridiculously tall skyscrapers.

There's another portent of doom. Ridiculous job titles.

During my tenure at Microsoft I met a number of people whom had appropriated for themselves job titles that sounded cute but bore no relation to their actual responsibilities - at least in comparison with their real world contemporaries.

This morning on Radio 4's Today programme they interviewed a chap from Microsoft UK who had the job title of "Chief Envisioning Officer". 

There's likely to be a form of deep malaise in an organisation that thinks its sensible to do this kind of thing. Not least because apart from making you sound ridiculous, it completely detaches you from the reality in which your customers operate - sales training 101 says it's important to build empathy with your customers.

Stupid, juvenile job titles do not empathy build.

Past examples of this kind of behaviour at Microsoft have taken on almost mythological status; the one I can recall most readily was when a PR spokesperson called himself "Chief Storyteller".

It's funny for about five seconds until you realise they're serious about it.

Get a real job (title).